Game Reviews

# Dice-O-Mania

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| Dice-O-Mania
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| Dice-O-Mania

It always seems a bit ominous to me that the singular of 'dice' is 'die'. I prefer to pluralise them at all time, and face the wrath of English teachers everywhere rather than tempt fate any more than I'm already doing by chucking handfuls of dice about the place. Thankfully, Dice-O-Mania provides plenty of cubes to toss around preventing the need for the singular; however, it proves occasionally as frustrating as keeping the difference between 'die' and 'dice' straight.

Like all good puzzle games, Dice-O-Mania is unerringly simple in concept, yet a trickster when it comes to putting theory into practice. A block of 3x3x3 dice (Rubik's Cube style) floats in the cosmos for you to work upon. Each die (we'll keep to strict English, lest the editor gives birth to stress children) can be exchanged with adjacent dice with the objective being to align three identical dice and remove them from the cube.

Each line of eliminated dice awards you points and the only real goal is to keep playing as long as possible. Gaps created in the cube are filled by random dice, so you must keep rotating the cube and eliminating dice before there's nowhere left for new units to fall. Simple, as I said, but there are plenty of nuances to keep the game interesting.

As holes start to appear in the structure, there are certain to be plenty of dice without another cuboid next to them, which makes them impossible to move. By spinning the cube around, gravity takes hold and drops the remaining dice to the bottom of the screen; in other words, reorganising your collection of dice and creating new potential for you to eliminate previously inaccessible sections. Dice can also be rotated until the required number is brought to the surface of the cube, though it's a slow way of building lines and as the frequency of new dice increases, rotating existing ones isn't a particularly effective strategy.

Dice-O-Mania also offers three different levels of play. If you so choose, you can begin with a cube of either 4x4x4 dice, or even 5x5x5 if you're feeling particularly adventurous. Having 125 dice spinning in space can get hard to look at, though, so rather than aligning numbers you can change to coloured dice and match them up that way instead. The concept is the same, but it can really help relieve strain on the eyeballs.

As fun and addictive as the game is, the first point of contention raised by Dice-O-Mania is one of purpose. There's no real goal other than building high scores by keeping the cube going as long as possible. Before too long, however, the frequency of new dice being added to the cube is too fast for anyone to compete against, and therefore your skill level is inherently capped. Eliminating the entire cube before moving on to the next difficultly level would at least provide some kind of achievement focus, but knowing that the system will put you out of business regardless of how well you're doing does put a downer on the experience.

Rotating the whole cube is another small issue, though getting around it is understandably difficult. The accelerometer is used to move the cube, while individual dice are shifted and rotated using the touchscreen. This doesn't work especially well, particularly in a time sensitive game like this, as the cube easily runs out of control and coaxing it into all three dimensions of movement can be damn frustrating.

This part of the game feels as though it needs to be run via the touchscreen, manually moving the cube into position to drop the remaining dice where you want them. This is tricky since it's needed to reposition individual dice, but perhaps holding the rotation button in the corner could also swap touch screen control to the overall cube since the dice are locked during this aspect of play anyway.

Quibbles aside, Dice-O-Mania is about as imaginative as any puzzle game on the App Store and it is horribly addictive. If Bejeweled 2 has lost its sheen, and Tetris is starting to feel a bit two dimensional, Dice-O-Mania is definitely worth consideration.

## Dice-O-Mania

Fascinating gameplay hampered slightly by frustrating and inaccurate controls
Spanner Spencer
Yes. Spanner's his real name, and he's already heard that joke you just thought of. Although Spanner's not very good, he's quite fast, and that seems to be enough to keep him in a regular supply of free games and away from the depressing world of real work.